As we gaze upon the horizon of climate change, the urgency of our collective mission is underscored by alarming data from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).
With soaring temperatures and El Niño conditions taking hold, the year 2023 is poised to break records, potentially becoming the warmest in history. The WMO reports that the average global temperature from January 1 to September 30 this year was 0.05°C higher than the same period in 2016, which previously held the title for the warmest calendar year. More significantly, this year’s temperatures were a staggering 1.4°C higher than the pre-industrial average (1850-1900).
These stark figures ring alarm bells for climate experts, raising concerns that we may breach the 1.5°C level stipulated in the Paris Agreement—a benchmark for long-term warming over many years. In fact, certain months have already surpassed this critical threshold.
The ramifications of this warming trend extend beyond mere statistics. Higher ocean temperatures, often linked to such climatic shifts, give rise to marine heat waves (MHWs)—extreme weather events with potentially devastating consequences.
Furthermore, the dramatic decline in Antarctica’s sea ice sheet is causing heightened anxiety among scientists. A reduction in ice cover may lead to a cascade of environmental challenges, including elevated ocean temperatures, hindrances in ice formation, rising sea levels, and disruptions to ocean circulation.
As we embark on discussions at the 28th session of the UN Conference of the Parties (COP 28) on climate change, held from 30 November until 12 December 2023, in Dubai, it is of vital importance that we confront these pressing issues head-on. The data serves as a stark reminder that the time for action is now, and the decisions made in the coming days can shape the trajectory of our planet’s future. Let us engage in meaningful discourse, inspired by the climate crisis, and work collaboratively toward a sustainable and resilient tomorrow.
As we look ahead, the focus must shift from promises to tangible actions. The urgency of the climate crisis demands a swift and decisive response from the global community. Nations must revisit and strengthen their emission reduction targets, aligning them with the latest scientific assessments. COP 28 should serve as a platform for sharing best practices in emission reduction strategies. The conference should prioritise discussions on technological advancements, adaptation strategies, and sustainable practices.
Developed nations must honour their commitments to provide financial aid to developing countries for climate action. The Green Climate Fund (GCF) holds significant importance in the realm of global climate action, serving as a crucial financial mechanism aimed at addressing climate change challenges, particularly in developing nations.
The unfulfilled pledge of $100 billion per year made by developed countries at COP 15 in 2009 underscores the urgency of mechanisms like the GCF in delivering on these commitments. COP 28 should establish mechanisms to ensure transparent and equitable distribution of climate funds. The Paris Agreement remains the cornerstone of our collective efforts to combat climate change. COP 28 presents an opportunity to fortify this agreement, ensuring that it evolves with the changing climate landscape. Strengthening the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and establishing a robust framework for monitoring and reporting are imperative.
A Role for Everyone
Empowering the youth and fostering public engagement are pivotal for sustained climate action. COP 28 should emphasise education, awareness, and the active involvement of citizens in climate initiatives. Every individual has a role to play in the fight against climate change. The conference should inspire individuals to adopt sustainable lifestyles, reduce their carbon footprint, and advocate for change. Businesses must integrate sustainability into their core strategies.
COP 28 should spotlight successful corporate sustainability models, encouraging others to follow suit. Political leaders must demonstrate unwavering commitment to climate action. It provides an arena for diplomatic efforts, fostering collaboration and solidarity. It is not merely a conference; it is a rallying cry for all nations, businesses, and individuals to embrace a shared responsibility for our planet’s well-being. Let us not be mere spectators in this crucial exercise. The time for personal responsibility has dawned, and each of us is a luminary in the moment of change.
— Nazeer Veliyil is Chief Executive Officer of BorgRollsWarner (UK) Limited.
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